In the era of AMOLED and OLED screens, we get a fair amount of queries about screen burn issues and how these affect a trade-in price. It's time to wrap our FAQs, so those with Organic Light-Emitting Diode displays, read on and find out how to protect yourself!
What is screen burn?
Basically, a screen burn or ghost image is permanent discolouration of a display in the areas that are used the most. Your display is a matrix of individual light emitting diodes or pixels. Depending on what areas of the display are in constant use, the pixels in those areas begin to decay subsequently ending their life-time usage and causing colour accuracy to fall off. We use our phones daily with screen-on time being almost a quarter of the time we’re awake in total during the day on average, so the answer is YES - our OLED/AMOLED phones are at risk of screen burns.
Pixel 2 burn in
What causes screen burn?
Screen burn-ins happen as a result of irregular pixel usage. The most common causes are idle screen activity, brightness levels set all the way up manually, screen time-out not being set up or having Always On Display function on (Galaxy and Pixel phones have this feature).
Pixels in status icons and navigation bar area emit light first therefore these screen sections are first to wear out. These areas of the display are used more against the rest of the display and uneven use that's what causes a screen-burn and the fact that different colour pixels are aging at different rates, contributes to the risk of burn-in, unfortunately. The burn-in looks like a faded spot or in extreme cases a shadow of previous "ghost" content wherever you are on your phone.
Ghost image on iPhone
Tips to prevent
Manufacturers are well aware of the issue and are implementing software solutions to avoid screen burn-ins. using Luckily, there are tricks to increase lifespan of your OLED so first things first.
Navigate to your Settings menu and tap "Display". We'd recommend turning the auto-brightness mode on, so when you're indoors or outdoors the phone will automatically adjust the screen brightness for optimal use and won't have your screen brightness maxed out at all times.
The less your screen stays on inactive, the longer the lifetime of your display. So while you're in Display Settings menu shorten your screen timeout to the possible convenient minimum. Most of the phones allow to decrease to 15 seconds of inactivity.
Get the most out of Immersive Mode
The Immersive Mode hides static icons of the notification bar providing a more burn-in preventive treatment. We'd recommend using this mode where available.
Our advice is to go with solid colours and change your wallpaper occasionally. For example, black wallpaper. OLED screens consume a small amount of energy and when display blacks OLEDs do not burn in. Additionally, solid coloured wallpapers will contribute to longer battery life, so it's a win-win.
Use a darker keyboard
Let's admit, black keyboards look nice and setting your theme entirely black will give a classy look to your phone's UI. But if you're against a completely dark interface, at least go with a darker keyboard as it will prevent display discolouration.
Can I fix screen burn-in?
Your phone suffered from burn-in and you are questioning yourself if you can fix it. To be honest, you can't, but there's one BUT. Thanks to some very talented developers, there are apps to help solve this problem. The science behind is that the app let's your pixels "exercise" and makes your burn-in disappear, but you won't get rid of the burn-in completely.
These burn-in fixer apps are pretty clever. Devices running Android Lollipop or later have something called "Inverted Colours" and the fixer app takes advantage of this software trick.
When installing the app, it will run diagnostics to identify if your screen has burn-in, parts of user interface will be hidden to stop burn-in progressing and it will invert colours underneath the burn-in clearing the visibility of the damage. Most of these apps are on Google Play and some of them have star rating above 4.0 so it's a sign they are doing a good job.
HUGE MASSIVE DISCLAIMER... Some users report permanent screen damage after using these tools, so use with caution only if your next step is buying a new screen anyway.
All OLED screens can and will burn-in and they're more exposed to burn-ins than standard LCD, however LCDs are not completely free of this bug. But OLED screens produce better image quality than LCD. So when picking a phone, that's a price you pay - shorter display lifespan for better image quality.
Unfortunately, it's quite tricky to spot a burn-in with an untrained eye or professional equipment, therefore when recycling your phone, you might quite easily be unaware your phone has this issue. When your device has been sent off and a recycler performs his inspections, and burn-in specific tests will take place and you will be notified of the results. If your device has suffered from burn-in, most likely your quote will be downgraded to "Broken" price category. So, before it's too late, start following the tips we've discussed above to enjoy your displays longer.